Tension heightened in Benin City yesterday, as Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, stopped his deputy, Philip Shaibu, from entering his office in the Government House.
Security operatives apparently on ground to carry out what was said to be directives from above turned back visitors who could not properly identify themselves from the Government House.
The altercation started around 8am when Shaibu accompanied by some of his personal aides and security details drove into the Government House and met the entrance gate to his office locked
An eye witness who was with the deputy governor said, “The gate to the office of the deputy governor and the main entrance leading to the story building was locked with chains and heavy padlocks. Shaibu and his aides waited for about an hour and left.”
It was gathered that Shaibu who made frantic effort to reach the governor but to no avail had some discussions with the state commissioner of Police and the state director of State Security Services (SSS), alerting them of the development.
He was also said to have summoned the Government House camp commandant identified as Ibrahim Babatunde, a Superintendent of Police and asked him why he was locked out of his office.
Babatunde was said to have told the deputy governor that it was a directive from above, adding that the chief security officer (CSO) of Government House, Williams Wabba, would be in a better position to explain.
But as at the time of filing this report, it was not clear whether Williams responded to the deputy governor’s calls.
However, a report trending online believed to have been posted by Governor Obaseki’s allies claimed that Shaibu tried to force himself into the governor’s office, even when he was told that the governor was not around.
The report said that all entreaties by the security operatives to him to “kindly go back and call the governor if he wanted to see his principal” were rebuffed.
“Instead, he kept pushing the gate, causing a scene.”
An aide to Obaseki who does not want his name mentioned said the deputy governor only came to the Government House to make trouble.
“He only came to make trouble. There is nothing like him being locked out of his office. His office has been relocated over two weeks ago and he himself carried the story about that. He has an office and he relocated there and sent the story out. So, you people should ask him why he came to government house today to make trouble?
“He was forcing himself into an office that is not his own. He came here to make trouble. His office is there; if he had gone there and he was locked out then it would be an issue. He came to Government House purposely to come and cause trouble”
It would be recalled that at the peak of the crisis between the two, Obaseki had relocated the office of the deputy governor outside government to No 7, Dennis Osadebey Avenue.
The civil servants in the office of the deputy governor last week officially relocated to the new facility that once housed the Edo State Procurement Agency.
The crisis between the two came to the fore about two months ago when Shaibu instituted a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja requesting that the court halt a purported plan to stop him from functioning in office as the deputy governor of the state, denying him attendance of exco meetings and then impeaching him.
But Shaibu in a statement penultimate week withdrew the suit due to intervention by traditional and religious leaders, particularly the Catholic Archbishop of Benin, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze.
Meanwhile, a former chief of staff to the Edo State government and a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Taiwo Akerele, has appealed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to intervene in the continued public sparring between Governor Obaseki and Shaibu.
The development economist said his call was hinged on the fact that the crisis between the two top government officials in the state has had a negative impact on the security of the state and governance.
In a statement sent to LEADERSHIP in Benin, Akerele called on them to halt their interpersonal squabble and focus on governing the state in the best interest of its citizens just as feared the distraction has the potential to negatively affect the security, governance, and prosperity of Edo State.
“It is disheartening to witness the recurrent personal battles between Governor Obaseki and Deputy Governor Shaibu. Their ongoing feud is causing severe disruptions, hindering the state from progressing and addressing the significant challenges it faces.
“I implore President Tinubu and the security agencies to take immediate action and safeguard the lives and property of the people of Edo State,” he said.